The U.K. government is to present Thursday a draft bill that will affect all kinds of laws that have governed the country for more than 40 years – the so-called Repeal Bill.
This is a key step to take the U.K. out of the European Union and avoid legal chaos. But it’s certain to raise much political controversy.
CNBC takes a look at what’s seen as the most comprehensive rewriting of the U.K.’s laws ever.
Leaving the European Union means that all the European laws, which apply directly to the U.K., including business regulation, will no longer be applicable. As a result, the U.K. government needs to present new domestic laws that will avoid a legal vacuum on the day that the country exits the bloc.
“Parliament must unpick over 40 years of integration between the U.K. and the EU legal systems and ensure no gaps are left in the process,” Peter Watts, Partner at Hogan Lovells International, told CNBC via email.
“The most difficult practical, as opposed to political, issue is the sheer volume and detail of the rules and making them work in a purely domestic U.K. legal context,” Watts said.
“But this will itself cause political issues as in many cases there isn’t a simple way of just ‘copying across’ the rules – decisions need to be taken about how they work if the U.K. is no longer part of the EU. This is an area in which the ‘devil is in the detail’,” he added.
Even before being debated, the repeal bill is already raising controversies between the several political parties. For instance, the Labour Party wants the U.K. government to drop its commitment to exclude the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
The Liberal Democrats are expecting a “legislative war,” the Financial Times reported.
“It is not difficult to see how the Repeal Bill could become a political football,” Watts told CNBC, mentioning the issue of powers to devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as an example.
The bill will be debated in the autumn and it needs to be passed by Parliament, if not it will not become law and the U.K. will be left in a “legal chaos”.
“Failure to enact the Repeal Bill in some form would be highly disruptive and destabilising for the UK. For this reason, it seems likely that, however controversial, some form of Repeal Bill will pass through Parliament. The question is: how much will it resemble the draft Bill being published on Thursday?,” Watts wondered.
Many political analysts and even market strategists forecast a new general election in the U.K. before the country concludes Brexit negotiations.
However, a new ballot should not impact the Repeal Bill as long as the country sticks to the outcome of the vote.
“If the U.K. is going to withdraw from the EU in an orderly manner, the Repeal Bill, or equivalent, will be necessary to provide for the terms of the transition from a domestic legal perspective and to provide the necessary certainty for U.K. citizens and businesses,” Watts explained.
UK to start the process of ending 40 years of EU control — Here’s what you need to know